Let “Lost in the Fire” burn

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By Stella Huang, Staff Writer

On January 20, Gesaffelstein & The Weeknd’s “Lost in The Fire” made top 25 on the Mediabase pop radio airplay chart. And I am appalled.

I used to admire The Weeknd for his ability to convey vulnerability through his lyrics and his music style. I always thought that he was an open-minded person, but the lyrics to his new song took away all the respect I had for him. Not only were they sexist, but they were also homophobic.

The line, “I used to have a girl a day,” is disrespectful towards women and idealizes men’s sexual fantasies. He depicts women as objects, or something you can just “do” and throw away and reinforces the way society paints the male fantasy. Instead of demeaning female sexuality, we should cultivate a culture that embraces the beauty and value of women.  

In addition to objectifying females in his song, The Weeknd disrespects the LGBTQ+ community with certain homophobic lyrics. He targets bisexual and lesbian females, saying that queerness is a “phase.” It seems unbelievable that a straight man thinks he has the right tell someone who may have taken years to come to a compromise with their sexuality that it was all a “phase.”

It took me years to accept my sexual orientation. I met a cool girl sophomore year, and her confidence in herself and her sexual identity helped me accept mine as well. Since I came from a relatively sheltered middle school, I had no idea people like her existed. I always thought that it was abnormal that I felt attracted to girls and boys, and I tried to convince myself that I was straight. It was not until I met her that I truly accepted my bisexuality.

Because I am a bisexual female, I am extremely offended by his lyrics, which seemingly target me and the community I belong to. Not only is The Weeknd implying that my sexual orientation is only temporary, but he is also perpetuating the stigma surrounding sexuality that made me hate myself for not being straight. I acknowledge that someone can be bi-curious, but queerness and liking girls is usually not just a phase.

Later in his lyrics, he writes that even if his partner brought a girl over, he would “f**k” her straight. Again, why is fetishizing queerness necessary? Our sexuality isn’t something that you can “f**k” straight, it is something only we ourselves can change; we don’t need others to change it for us if we are happy the way we are.

Some may come to The Weeknd’s defense and argue that his lyrics often cover topics such as drugs, alcohol and sex with women, and he is just doing what others have been doing for years. However, have we not questioned whether the demeaning of women in songs is acceptable? Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” which skyrocketed in popularity after its release, has slut-shaming lyrics that have gone without notice, such as “Used to always stay at home, be a good girl.” Mac Miller’s “O.K.” contains lyrics demeaning girls into sex property, such as “My b***h suck, she a vacuum.” Why is it that singers’ casual misogyny goes unnoticed?

The Weeknd’s lyrics are a clear indicator that he more than just ignorant. His song ends with repetition of the lyric, “I can’t lose you, babe.” Going back to the points I made before, a woman is not your property, and even if you force her to stay, her sexuality is not something for you to decide. The extent of his lyrics clearly shows homophobia and a lack of respect for women, and the choice to publicize this song tells a lot about him as a person.

The Weeknd is a public figure, so he can choose what he wants to promote. However, he should think twice about promoting the objectification of bisexual and lesbian women to his fan base, which consists of youth. Songs with lyrics like his keep people from coming out and perpetuate the stigma of being non-heterosexual. Even after all these years, it’s disappointing that that women and sexuality are still being stigmatized and treated like trivial matters in the music industry and media as a whole. All my respect for The Weeknd is gone, and none of it will return.